Greetings from corruption free Hong Kong, where I just found the following article in the China Daily HK. My curiosity was aroused when I saw the name ‘Amina Bokhary’, (not that this has anything to do with Islam; we all know that good Muslims don’t drink and drive) Â so I did a quick google search. Here’s what came up.
The niece of top judge Kemal Bokhary was spared jail yesterday after being convicted of assaulting police for a third time. The decision brought a mixed response from police unions but sparked an outcry on a radio talk show.
Amina Mariam Bokhary, 34, whose uncle is Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary of the Court of Final Appeal, was put on probation for a year by Magistrate Anthony Yuen Wai-ming for slapping a police officer after a car accident on January 27.
Yuen said assaulting police and failing to take a breath test, which Amina Bokhary also admitted, were serious offences that usually called for immediate custodial sentences.
“But … the defendant has a good background, a well-off family, good education and outstanding academic achievement … with a first-class honour in bachelor of business administration,” he said. “And most importantly, [she] has caring and concerned parents.”
The Eastern Court magistrate, who heard earlier that Bokhary suffered from bipolar disorder that she tried to control with alcohol, added: “Unlike other criminals, you’re not a bad person but a sick person … with limited insight into your illness.”
The Junior Police Officers Association said it respected the decision, although it would not deter assaults on police. The Police Inspectors Association said the decision was not surprising given evidence about Bokhary’s mental condition.
But a retired traffic policeman said on Commercial Radio’s phone-in programme last night that the ruling “seems to suggest that some upper-class people can be immune from punishment”. Another former police officer called on the government to appeal.
The Department of Justice said it would “consider the reasons for sentence … and the prosecutor’s case report before deciding whether a review of the sentences is appropriate”.
Yuen also fined Bokhary HK$5,000 for failing to provide a breath specimen and HK$3,000 for careless driving and disqualified her from driving for a year.
The charges arose from an accident on January 27 when Bokhary, driving a car uphill in Stubbs Road, Happy Valley, suddenly veered into the downhill lane and hit a coach head-on. Bokhary, who appeared to have been drinking, slapped the face of a policeman who tried to stop her leaving the scene. She refused a breath test at the scene and again at Happy Valley police station.
In December 2008, Bokhary was ordered to perform 240 hours of community service and fined HK$1,000 for assaulting a policewoman and a taxi driver. In 2002, she was fined HK$9,000 for assaulting a policeman and damaging a spotlight outside a bar in Central after an argument with her boyfriend in June 2001.
Bokhary’s lawyer, Peter Duncan SC, told the court earlier that she had developed bipolar disorder in 2007 and had resorted to alcohol because her medication was not effective.
Junior Police Officers’ Association chairman Wong Ching said: “We totally respect the court’s ruling, as it has considered many factors.
“But we have to say that the punishment may be too lenient, that it will fail to deter people from committing the same crime. As police officers, we need respect from members of the public.”
Police Inspectors’ Association chairman Tony Liu Kit-ming said: “We cannot regard it as an ordinary case. If she was a normal person, of course the sentence would be too lenient. But she has medical proof that she is unwell.”
Under her probation, Bokhary is to spend three months at the Betty Ford Centre for alcohol rehabilitation in the US. On her return to Hong Kong, she must attend Alcoholics Anonymous and return to the court for a progress report in four months.
Barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah said he had not heard of an overseas probation order before and questioned how the court could monitor Bokhary’s progress there. He also said the sentence was “forgiving”.
University of Hong Kong associate law professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming, said the magistrate’s reasoning for lenient treatment was convincing and acceptable.
“The judge should not favour or penalise an offender due to her or his background. In this case, for instance, we should not offer her severe punishment because of who she is or who her family members are,” Cheung said.
The case was exceptional because the offender had a psychiatric illness and was under the influence of alcohol, he said.
“The magistrate observed that the best handling of the offender was not imprisonment but to allow her to have her illness cured and I believe it is very convincing,” he said.
But Commercial Radio’s phone-in was swamped with calls criticising the “light sentencing”.
A retired policeman said: “The ruling not only hits police morale, but also encourages the bad guy to follow suit. You are only fined several thousand dollars for slapping an officer and refusing a breath test. To some, it is cheap entertainment.”